In this edition of Five Minutes with, we caught up with two staff members in our Participation and Experience team. The team consists of 12 dedicated colleagues who exist to support service users, families, and carers, to bring about changes and improvements to the way our services are planned and delivered.

Katy Willmont, Participation and Experience Lead for Acute and Urgent Care and Nasim Begum, Participation and Experience Worker for ICCR and Dementia and Frailty, took the time out of their day to tell us a little bit more about their roles and the work they do at our Trust.

Thanks for taking time out to chat with us! Could you first start off by telling us a little bit about your role at BSMHFT?

Katy: Our team is here to support the engagement of service users, families and carers; both at an individual and service-wide level to bring about changes and improvements to the way our services are planned and delivered. I am the lead for Acute and Urgent Care which means that I focus on improving the service user experience on our inpatient wards and urgent care areas. I also work closely with the wider Participation and Experience team regarding family and carer experiences. I develop projects working with staff and Experts by Experience which leads to true co-production.

Nasim: The purpose of my role is to support the engagement of service user’s, families and carers in the planning and delivery of mental health services, and the mainstreaming of the recovery agenda. This will include the development of strong communication networks between service providers and those who use our services.

What made you want to work in this particular service at BSMHFT?

A picture of Katy

Katy: I started working in the Trust nine years ago as an Expert by Experience. I have my own lived experience of using our Mother and Baby Unit, Early Intervention service, a general inpatient ward and Community services. Prior to this role I have been a peer support worker and I also managed an Expert by Experience project for two years. I am passionate about using lived experience to co-produce projects and improve a service user’s experience, so when this opportunity came up, I was really excited.

Nasim: A key element to my job is engagement, taking the time to listen to someone. I enjoy talking to people and listening, everyone has a story to tell. I feel you not only learn from others, but you take something away from it. We have a team of compassionate, inclusive and committed people working together to provide excellent care.

How does your work support our service users?

Katy: I have been in post just over a year now and I have been able to develop many projects which enhance a service user’s experience, to give a few examples; developing a discharge pack, completing a service user questionnaire about reducing restrictive practice and we are about to start a Patient Council for our acute wards.

Nasim: When taking feedback from a service user’s family or carer, we are learning what we are doing right and where we need to improve our service delivery. There is always room for improvement. As a Trust we learn from working closely with our service user’s families and carers.

What changes have you recently seen at the Trust that can be attributed to the work our Participation and Experience team has achieved?

Katy: Our team was re-structured last year and as we have a team lead for each directorate now, we can work closely with senior managers and also link with our Participation and Experience workers who regularly visit our sites to gather feedback. We support projects to ensure that we have Experts by Experience involved and we can link service users with the right experience to the correct project and offer training and support.

Participation and Experience logo

Can you explain what an Expert by Experience is and why their work is so important at the Trust?

Katy: Experts by Experience (EbE) are people who have recent personal experience of using or caring for someone who uses mental health services. Our Experts by Experience support both our clinical and non-clinical teams in service developments by representing the values of co-production and improvement by providing their input from a lived experience perspective. To have lived experience represented in a project we can truly hear what it’s like to use a service and this is valuable. The opportunities we provide to our EbE’s are trust-wide and include all our community, inpatient and specialist services for adults and young people.

EbE opportunities include, taking part in staff recruitment interview panels, service improvement/ project feedback opportunities, participating in events and attending meetings to name just a few.

Has there ever been a standout moment in your career that has stayed with you?

Katy: For me, it must be when I won the Royal College of Psychiatrists ‘Service User of the Year’ in 2018. This was for my work that linked with my perinatal experience. I provided regional training through Action on Postpartum Psychosis, and I also carried out a lot of media work around this topic as well as provided peer support on the mother and baby unit. This is an area which I am really passionate about after receiving such good care after I had my daughter in 2011.

Nasim: There has been so many, however, I am reminded whenever I see someone whose care I was involved in over the years. I also feel great pride when I receive nice and positive comments which gives me motivation.

Tell us something about yourself that someone might not know.

Katy: I am in the Guinness Book of World Records for taking part in a tap dance with the most amount of people under one roof.

Nasim: I love learning new words and their meanings. I feel such an achievement. My search engine must be FULL.

Describe yourself in three words.

Katy: Organised, sociable, caring.

Nasim: Diligent, Meticulous, Empathetic.